Reflection: Our experience attending the 2021 NACDL annual conference

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Posted August 4, 2021

Our team attended the annual National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) conference in Milwaukee from July 21-23, 2021. We joined over 300 attendees to celebrate the important work of criminal defense attorneys and public defenders in our justice system.

We walked away from the event with new partnerships, valuable product insights, and strengthened motivation to tackle racial and economic disparities in our criminal justice system.
At the conference, we had the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of speakers, many of whom addressed the importance of confronting racial bias when defending their clients. Some of our favorite presentations were the following:

  • Seeing's Not Believing: Cross-Examination of an ID Witness — Jennifer Sellitti, Director of Training and Communications at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender  
  • Brewing a Successful Plan: Crossing Cops on Prior Misconduct — Joe Mazraani, Criminal Defense Attorney in New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Confronting Race by Carefully Crafting Cross-Examination — Juval Scott, Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia

    As an NACDL Affinity Partner, we were able to exhibit our work at the conference as well. We spoke with dozens of attorneys who shared their frustrations with managing high volumes of body-camera footage and other digital discovery. Our product demonstrations were incredibly well-received by the group, and many attorneys expressed that they had been searching for a solution like JusticeText for a long time. We are so encouraged by this feedback and motivated to continue developing a product expressly tailored for the defense community.  

As a final conference highlight, we met renowned criminal defense lawyers Dean Strang and Jerry Buting, who some may recognize from their role in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer.

Outside of the conference, we enjoyed exploring the city of Milwaukee, which was fresh off of an NBA championship win. During our lunch break on the first day of the conference, we got to partake in the Milwaukee Bucks championship parade festivities right outside of Deer District. We also indulged in a lot of Milwaukee food and bonded with defense lawyers Tony Cotton and Eric Eickhoff over steins of beer in true Milwaukee fashion. 

Overall, we had a great time at our first in-person NACDL conference and formed strong connections with attorneys nationwide. We are working hard to level the playing field for criminal defense attorneys with our technology and look forward to supporting their work as we continue to grow. We are grateful to the NACDL organizers for hosting an incredible event and want to extend a special shoutout to Jason Petty for being so welcoming of JusticeText.

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